Legendary instructor to helm violin master class


Yemi Falodun| Staff Writer

Lining up her ruler on a white sheet filled with student contact information, premier violin maestro Almita Vamos spoke with a marked gentleness. From 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. today in McKnight Hall, Vamos will shape those students’ repertoires in a violin master class.

“In six weeks, I want to make — for those students who are not my own — I really want to make a difference in their lives,” said Vamos, who lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

This summer break is a welcomed adventure for the the musician who knows Chautauqua all too well, as she has traced its landscape since she was 7.

Vamos said is glad her Chicago studio overlooks Lake Michigan, explaining the noticeable transition she experiences moving from city to rural life.

“And if you’re in a room where they don’t have windows, you can get tired,” she said. “People don’t realize when they put a teacher in a studio how important it is for them to have some light, some trees.”

Teaching is the one area where a musician can improve, she said, thinking of her more than 40 years instructing a multitude of students who have gone on to have illustrious careers. Vamos studied under Mischa Mischakoff and Louis Persinger at The Julliard School.

“I look back and I think of my success 10 years ago, I feel like I’m better now, with the way that I spot things more quickly,” she said. “I know the music better.”

Vamos is not alone in her endeavors this summer, as her accomplished husband and fellow maestro Roland will be teaching a viola course focused on polishing his students’ skills.

The tandem works like a talented basketball backcourt: Former high school guard Roland, who handles technique, assists Almita, who focuses primarily on repertoire.

Amita explained how her husband and she push themselves to give their students all they have, despite having worked a 10-hour day or more.

“We have to keep reminding ourselves that,” she said. “We cannot be lazy.”

Chautauqua will have quite enough to keep the two busy this summer. On July 13, Almita will perform with decorated French-born pianist Monique Duphil at 4 p.m. in Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall.

Admission to today’s master classes is $5.